Did you hear about the guy who ate like Jesus for a week? I know that sounds like the beginning of a bad dad joke, but it’s legit. A guy named Vincenzo Ligresti half-jokingly took seven days to eat a little healthier and thought Jesus would be the prime example to model after. It is pretty fascinating, funny and somewhat thought-provoking once you get past the Jesus costume and numerous bottles of red he consumed. It got me thinking: Does my view of food match up with Jesus’ view of food? (To gain some perspective, I’m literally eating double stuffed Oreos as I’m writing this. I wish I was kidding.)
Much like the author in this article I referred to, I grew up in an Italian household where food was at the center of EVERYTHING. Oh, your boyfriend dumped you? Here’s a bowl of pasta. Oh, you made the cheerleading squad? Let’s eat ice cream! Oh, you have midterms this week? Tacos it is! This has definitely carried over into my adult life and family life. You do not want to be in my house on a night when we decide that we are not having dessert. It is as if the demons from the dark pits of hell take over our four tiny humans when told, “no dessert.” So I guess you can say food is a big deal to us. But, is that a good thing? Is it a bad thing? Let’s dig a little deeper.
When it came to food, Jesus didn’t overindulge. He enjoyed it in healthy ways and often used food as a way of creating community by having meals at others’ homes and keeping crowds together longer by feeding them in miraculous ways. He also makes it abundantly clear that He is the bread of life, and He is the only thing that will sustain us, satisfy us and fulfill us. Whatever it is in our lives that we are craving—food, a relationship, alcohol, shopping, likes on Instagram—if it is taking more real estate in your life than Jesus, something is terribly wrong. Jesus modeled His prayer life so that we may see the proper way to fill our lives with the nutrients we need.
When it comes to food for me, I focus on it for three reasons: it either eases my pain, adds to my joy or numbs my frustrations. The sad part is that most of the world agrees with me and turns to food for these three reasons as well. It’s not illegal and does not cause pain in an obvious way, so therefore it can’t be that bad, right? Food was never meant to fulfill these parts of my life. It was never meant to take the place of what only Jesus can do for me. Why do I turn to food before I turn to God? Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you can never have a brownie and that you are sentenced to kale for the rest of your life. I AM saying that we have to be really careful not to use food as a way to numb, ease or fix our issues. Only God can truly fulfill these areas and sustain true hunger and thirst. In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul tells us, “It is true that our freedom allows us to do anything, but that doesn’t mean that everything we do is good for us.” Just because there’s a buy one, get two free on pints of Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t mean we should indulge! We cannot always trust ourselves, and it is important to know our triggers and our limits.
This is not meant to condemn you or me. Like I said earlier, I’m chowing down on an Oreo, and I don’t feel too bad about it. I am, however, challenging you and me to make sure we are seeking first Jesus and His kingdom, putting Him above all else. When you’re hurt or wronged, seek Him. When you’ve received great news and want to celebrate, seek Him. When you are angry or frustrated, put the burger down and SEEK HIM. Once we give Him first place in our lives, food and other substitutions will not take precedence and we can discover a healthy balance. We can then treat food the way it was intended—for nutrition, growth and even some enjoyment. So, pick up your Bible more. Spend time with your Father more. Sit in His presence more. And allow His love and grace to fill you rather than a milkshake. I promise you this: if we do these things we will be filled and satisfied in a way where you won’t need your stretchy pants or have junk food remorse. Friend, you’ve got this, and He’s got you.